He knew he was dying so we fled

to Naples, Florida where one smart

marketer planted a banyan at the gate.

Clever guy, understanding buyers like us,

the way we arrived hypnotized

by what we wanted, what we didn’t want,

so distractible— just show us

an exotic dragged in from Jakarta

or some Broward County agri-field.


The salesman, close-shaved, piney-smelling:

Nail your deal. God’s not

making any more land, you know.

We knew. We nodded, our eyes

focused on the near view.


The banyan stood among us, a foreigner,

roots forced into the strange taste of Florida,

patient trunk dreaming inside a circle

of own-grown pillars—

a small, Asiatic temple

set to guard our gates from demons.


And then a demon, the one the weather

service decided to call Wilma,

roared out of the Straits of Florida,

stripped the banyan, tore it

from its ground, left its roots draped

with a tangle of powerlines

like spitting, sparking handcuffs.


Walking Wilma’s wreckage, my neighbor

muttered, What waste. so much waste,

and I didn’t ask, What is it you think we’ve wasted?

Besides money and electricity, the time and labor

of forty, silent, sweating Guatemalans,

the gradient that made the storm,

the cambium that grew the tree.

But already


eighteen wheelers were sweeping down I 75,

weighted with royal

palms, tiger palms a whole new grove

of banyan, corralled, strapped down,

bundled and shipped.


I imagine the dying banyans,

their sapwood drenched

with whatever it is a tree

might be dreaming.